Bottles are observably backing up on the conveyor. Is this due to a defective chain guide or a broken guide roller? No matter which, the watchword is: respond quickly and replace the defective part immediately. Otherwise, it will cause a complete line standstill, which in turn results in expensive production downtime. Fast trouble-shooting, that is the task of Rapid Parts on Demand. Thanks to this solution developed by Krones, it is possible to produce a brand-new emergency part on demand in just a few hours, which can be used to bridge the time until the spare part proper is delivered. In other words, there is no need to stock it.
The solution is based on 3D printing technology, for which Krones offers its clients an all-inclusive package, comprising consultancy on the client-specific possibilities, the data needed for printing the spare in question, plus the matching 3D printer and the requisite expendables. Even though Krones has only been working on the development of Rapid Parts on Demand since mid-2020, print templates are already available for many different parts after just six months – and more are added on a continuous basis.
When a beverage producer opts for this solution, Krones first checks all the existing machines and recommends suitable print files for spares that are already available. On request, we also check whether there are other client-specific parts that are suitable for 3D printing. All print templates are then made available in the Krones.shop where the printing order can be started at the touch of a button, and its progress monitored. The entire printing process is thus completely transparent for the client, whose customised data are securely stored in the Krones Cloud.
In order to be able to print spare parts for an ultra-varied range of applications, Krones, together with KIC Krones, has created a material portfolio with different characteristics and colours, available by under the name of creadditive. Parts with disparate mechanical, chemical and thermal characteristics can be printed, using materials ranging from resilient and fibre-reinforced plastics right through to tribologically optimised filaments. Each of the materials is chosen to suit the specific application for the component in question. Besides the materials themselves, the creadditive series also comprises supporting materials like a cleaning filament or a backing material.
Krones likewise supplies the requisite hardware. When the Ultimaker S5 printer is delivered, it is ready for use. All the client needs to do is connect it to the Krones.shop. Data security is a top priority at Krones: all information exchanged between printer and platform is at all times encrypted.
Spare part available in a short time
The advantages for the beverage producer are obvious: 3D printing can cut the time of a line standstill by producing an emergency part. Instead of keeping all sorts of different spares in stock, all the client needs is the printer supplied by Krones and a computer with access to the Krones.shop. Depending on the component concerned, it takes only between twenty minutes and a few hours from the time the printing order is started until the part required is completely printed and ready for immediate use.
Rapid Parts on Demand is particularly worthwhile for clients who operate many different lines. But its use makes sense for relatively small line owners as well. The client only has to pay for the part that has actually been printed. The 3D printer currently available is very compactly dimensioned, easy to handle, and can be started up quickly on the plug-and-play principle. It can thus be used at different production facilities – all that is needed is a stable internet connection.
Beverage producers can print their parts directly in their own plant, but Krones also offers an option for using a 3D printer in their local subsidiary. This is the ideal variant for all those who would like to start by testing this 3D technology, without having to invest in their own kit upfront, or for those whose plant is located in the subsidiary’s vicinity, so it’s easy for them to keep their 3D printing options open for emergency parts.
Because 3D printing technology for spares production is still new, Krones sets great store by liaising closely with beverage companies already utilising Rapid Parts on Demand to get their feedback. Proof of concept started in autumn last year with various clients from all over the world. We expect this concept to become an integral part of Krones’ service portfolio as from mid-2021.
How the Rapid Parts on Demand solution works
- gives any beverage producer interested customised advice on all aspects of using 3D-printed spares.
- after receiving the order designs the client-specific parts and makes the printing data available through the Krones.shop.
- also supplies all the requisite hardware: Ultimaker S5 3D printer and materials from KIC Krones’ creadditive series.
The beverage producer
- then logs into the Krones.shop and receives an overview of all available printable spare parts.
- starts the printing order for the needed part, which is immediately sent to the 3D printer. Print progress status is displayed in the Krones.shop’s personal virtual warehouse dashboard.
- can then after just a few hours take the finished spare part from the printer and install it in the line.
- purchases all materials, plus additionally required expendables (like cleaning filament and backing material), from KIC Krones, directly through the Krones.shop.